Cannabis has become a multi-million dollar business in Michigan, but there is still a double standard when it comes to social equity in the industry.
“Social equity has basically become a term of art in the cannabis industry,” said Jerome Crawford with Pleasantrees.
The Michigan company is hiring more minorities like Crawford, an attorney who now oversees legal operations and social equity for Pleasantrees. Crawford says, to his knowledge, he is the first Black in-house counsel ever within Michigan’s marijuana manufacturing industry.
Now the attorney is working with the company to eliminate the historic cultural stigma surrounding marijuana.
“At Pleasantrees, our position is that cannabis shouldn’t have been illegal in the first place,” Crawford said.
The business is also trying to address racial disparities related to the policing of marijuana. According to the ACLU, Black people are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.
“We’re trying to level the playing field,” Crawford said. “When you have this industry that has been criminalized by a prohibition (but) is now legal, it’s really about balancing those scales and trying to even it out.”
To help address these racial disparities, the company has introduced its Pleasantree Social Equity Plan that focuses on four key areas to “help create equitable access across the value chain of the legal cannabis industry,” including: access to the value chain, education, being a good neighbor and supporting equity-based legislation.
“(We are) supporting peace and legislation, and supporting actual elected officials (who) are about the change, (who) want to do different things,” Crawford said.
You can learn more about Pleasantrees’ social equity plan on their website here.